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Newly retired and getting SS - how accurate was SS Statements 5 - 10 yrs ago?
Old 04-24-2016, 11:41 AM   #1
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Newly retired and getting SS - how accurate was SS Statements 5 - 10 yrs ago?

Hi. for those who are newly retired and already getting social security, how accurate was the social security amount you are getting, compared to the estimated statements you were getting 5 - 10 years ago ?? Are you getting more or less ?? What's the dollar difference - $50 ??, $150 ?? Thanks for sharing any info.
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:49 PM   #2
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To maximize your social security, particularly if you're married, I recommend reading this excellent book by Lawrence Kotlikoff (who has become the "go to" expert on, if not outspoken critic of, the SSA):

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Your...sap_bc?ie=UTF8

In the book, he reviews the various methods for obtaining your SS amount. My takeaways were: 1) the annual statement isn't quite accurate and understates your SS amount as it doesn't adjust for one type of inflation (wages, IIRC); 2) the SS quick calculator online is more accurate, as is the SS AnyPIA calcuator.

I personally use the AnyPIA calculator, which is more cumbersome and time-consuming, but more complete for my tastes. Additionally, I use the SS economic assumptions scenario II in the AnyPIA calculator, as I recall, in order to build in a conservative buffer. I really took the time to read and understand the AnyPIA so I'm confident with its output.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by cyber888 View Post
Hi. for those who are newly retired and already getting social security, how accurate was the social security amount you are getting, compared to the estimated statements you were getting 5 - 10 years ago ?? Are you getting more or less ?? What's the dollar difference - $50 ??, $150 ?? Thanks for sharing any info.
The estimates I used were very accurate, within a few dollars per month.

But, recognize that the first thing you'll get from the SS website will assume that you continue to work up until the time you start SS benefits.

Like most people around here, we had period with no earned income before we started SS. So, "the estimates I used" had future income inputs that reflected that plan.

Also, like many people here, I built my own worksheet so I understood how SS calculates these numbers.
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Old 04-24-2016, 03:40 PM   #4
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Hi Options,
I already have that book and I've read it.
I'm not asking about maximizing social security, because the new laws won't allow file and suspend anymore. I'm not interested about maximizing social security. That is not my question.

Yes, I know that the statement or the calculator may not be that accurate, so I'm trying to get some info about 'actual' vs. 'projected'. I am already aware of this.

If you retired, I'm just asking whether what you actually got in $$$ is about the same as the SS statement or their online calculator.

For example, if the online calculator said you suppose to get $1,500 but your actual check payment from SS was $1,510.95. The answer to my question would be = $10.95 (or the difference between the actual and the calculator).

Lastly, I'm not asking how much you or anyone is getting from SS. I'm just interested in the difference between 'actual' and 'projected'. So, if the difference is $1.45 or $5.80 .. that's what I'm interested in. How close is the estimated vs. actual income


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Originally Posted by Options View Post
To maximize your social security, particularly if you're married, I recommend reading this excellent book by Lawrence Kotlikoff (who has become the "go to" expert on, if not outspoken critic of, the SSA):

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Your...sap_bc?ie=UTF8

In the book, he reviews the various methods for obtaining your SS amount. My takeaways were: 1) the annual statement isn't quite accurate and understates your SS amount as it doesn't adjust for one type of inflation (wages, IIRC); 2) the SS quick calculator online is more accurate, as is the SS AnyPIA calcuator.

I personally use the AnyPIA calculator, which is more cumbersome and time-consuming, but more complete for my tastes. Additionally, I use the SS economic assumptions scenario II in the AnyPIA calculator, as I recall, in order to build in a conservative buffer. I really took the time to read and understand the AnyPIA so I'm confident with its output.
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:13 PM   #5
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How close is the estimated vs. actual income
In my case the online calculator and the mailed statements were very close, also to within a few dollars. And mine was a bit of a moving target because I retired with no intention of working, stumbled into an agreeable job for a few years, and then quit when things went south at the job. The result is that my SS benefits are going to be higher than we had originally planned on.

There was also the issue with Medicare premiums rising and I got caught in that since I'd started Medicare and had not yet started on SS at the time. But the final number was very close to the estimates and I am not at all unhappy.
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Old 04-24-2016, 09:46 PM   #6
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Hi Options,
I already have that book and I've read it.
I'm not asking about maximizing social security, because the new laws won't allow file and suspend anymore. I'm not interested about maximizing social security. That is not my question.

Yes, I know that the statement or the calculator may not be that accurate, so I'm trying to get some info about 'actual' vs. 'projected'. I am already aware of this.

If you retired, I'm just asking whether what you actually got in $$$ is about the same as the SS statement or their online calculator.

For example, if the online calculator said you suppose to get $1,500 but your actual check payment from SS was $1,510.95. The answer to my question would be = $10.95 (or the difference between the actual and the calculator).

Lastly, I'm not asking how much you or anyone is getting from SS. I'm just interested in the difference between 'actual' and 'projected'. So, if the difference is $1.45 or $5.80 .. that's what I'm interested in. How close is the estimated vs. actual income
Good for you for getting/reading the book! If you recall, it actually discusses many strategies for maximizing SS besides file/suspend. The authors also cover every method for estimating SS, and determined the calculators are the closest. The SS site states AnyPIA has been the closest in their experience.

Unfortunately, I can't offer real life experience because I'm delaying SS until 70. Looks like others have provided good answers for you, though.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:45 AM   #7
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I'm not yet collecting SS.

I don't like the estimate they give since it assumes a lot, like you will work to FRA and you will earn what you earned last year. I guess they have to do something to encourage folks to work until 1 foot is in the grave.
It's just so inaccurate, that I use the online calculator at the SS site instead.

In the end a $10.95 difference is peanuts.
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Old 05-01-2016, 12:42 PM   #8
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Yeah, they do have a calculator that assumes that. However, there is an option where you can put "0" for your next year income and it will assume you have '0' income till retirement. When I used this assumption, I would be receiving about $300+/month less if I stopped working 9 years before I hit 62 (calculated in present value).


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I'm not yet collecting SS.

I don't like the estimate they give since it assumes a lot, like you will work to FRA and you will earn what you earned last year. I guess they have to do something to encourage folks to work until 1 foot is in the grave.
It's just so inaccurate, that I use the online calculator at the SS site instead.

In the end a $10.95 difference is peanuts.
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Old 05-01-2016, 12:53 PM   #9
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Not enough to fret over. I retired in 2008 and the official Social Security statements I received for retirement at FRA for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 were within $140 per month. After 2012, I didn't receive another official estimate until 2015 at FRA. It was for ~$100 per month more than the 2012 estimate.
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Old 05-01-2016, 01:15 PM   #10
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Thanks Arky, How many years did you contribute to SS ? It's good they paid you $100 more NICE !

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Not enough to fret over. I retired in 2008 and the official Social Security statements I received for retirement at FRA for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 were within $140 per month. After 2012, I didn't receive another official estimate until 2015 at FRA. It was for ~$100 per month more than the 2012 estimate.
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Old 05-01-2016, 01:56 PM   #11
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Thanks Arky, How many years did you contribute to SS ? It's good they paid you $100 more NICE !
Every year from 1967 through 2007. The years from 1967 through 1972 (college) were on a quite modest income, but they're on my record.
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Old 05-01-2016, 04:18 PM   #12
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Wow .. that's 40 years .. nice record

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Every year from 1967 through 2007. The years from 1967 through 1972 (college) were on a quite modest income, but they're on my record.
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Old 05-01-2016, 04:46 PM   #13
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I last received a paper statement from the SSA back in 2009 which included all of my working years but assumed (incorrectly) that I would keep working until normal retirement age. But around that time I went to the SSA website to do 2 things. The first was to see how the SS benefit was calculated so I could mimic it in my homemade spreadsheet. Second was to download the AnyPIA program.


I was able to mimic the SSA's benefit calculation in my spreadsheet but wanted to run the AnyPIA program as a check on it. I had trouble running the AnyPIA program but in 2010 I was able to finally get it to work (thanks to a few hints from others in this forum). The difference between my spreadsheet and the AnyPIA program was less than $1, a rounding error perhaps.


Given that my wage earnings history has not changed since 2008, the only thing I do now is to get an updated list of wage indexing factors from the SSA website and insert them into my spreadsheet. The final projected SS benefit changes very slightly.
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Old 05-01-2016, 05:11 PM   #14
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I have 36 great years of income paid into ss. If I were to work 1 more year at a level greater than $30000 above my 35th year, it would increase my monthly payment by about $10.

The difference between what is predicted today and what will be actual in 10 years is a function of the indexing factors. It looks like they are predicting an increase in indexing factors of about 5% per year dropping to about 4% per year over the next 8 years.

Calculate your AIME for today's earnings record, increase it by 4% for each year between now and when you expect to draw SS, do the formula multiplication, adjust it for deduct or add relative to FRA, and you should be pretty close.
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Old 05-01-2016, 05:35 PM   #15
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The earliest SS statement I kept is from 1999 which showed my age 62 benefit as $920. By the time I actually took early SS in 2012 when I turned 62 it was $1,484. The inflation calculator shows that $920 in 1999 is equivalent to $1,268 in 2012 so I made out like a bandit.
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Old 05-01-2016, 06:37 PM   #16
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Wow! That's amazing ! That's like $216 more ! However, after 2008-2009 thought, SS benefits have been crept up as slower. I'm not being that optimistic.

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The earliest SS statement I kept is from 1999 which showed my age 62 benefit as $920. By the time I actually took early SS in 2012 when I turned 62 it was $1,484. The inflation calculator shows that $920 in 1999 is equivalent to $1,268 in 2012 so I made out like a bandit.
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Old 05-01-2016, 08:44 PM   #17
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The last SS statement I found for DH was 2005.

(I admit to being a teeny bit behind on filing).

Husband started collecting SS in March 2015. The 2005 prediction was about $320 below what his SS checks are.
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Old 05-01-2016, 10:07 PM   #18
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The estimates I used were very accurate, within a few dollars per month.

But, recognize that the first thing you'll get from the SS website will assume that you continue to work up until the time you start SS benefits.

Like most people around here, we had period with no earned income before we started SS. So, "the estimates I used" had future income inputs that reflected that plan.

Also, like many people here, I built my own worksheet so I understood how SS calculates these numbers.
The SS statements I get assume no future income since I've had no past earned income for many many years now.

I have a current statement. I don't expect to draw SS until 2029.
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Old 05-01-2016, 10:09 PM   #19
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The last SS statement I found for DH was 2005.

(I admit to being a teeny bit behind on filing).

Husband started collecting SS in March 2015. The 2005 prediction was about $320 below what his SS checks are.
That's a long time and lots of COLA over 10 years.
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Newly retired and getting SS - how accurate was SS Statements 5 - 10 yrs ago?
Old 05-01-2016, 11:23 PM   #20
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Newly retired and getting SS - how accurate was SS Statements 5 - 10 yrs ago?

In 2011, at FRA, my husband would get $2145. He retired this year, at 64.5 and he received $2043. Pretty close I think.


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